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What are the different types of lung cancer ?

Cancers that begin in the lungs are divided into two major types of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer, depending on how the cells look under a microscope. Each type of lung cancer grows and spreads in different ways and is treated differently.


It accounts for about 80% of lung cancers. There are three types of non small cell lung cancer :

Squamous cell carcinoma (also called epidermoid carcinoma): This is the most common type of NSCLC. It forms in the lining of the bronchial tubes and is the most common type of lung cancer in men.
Adenocarcinoma: This cancer is found in the glands of the lungs that produce mucus. This is the most common type of lung cancer in women and also among people who have not smoked.
Bronchioalveolar carcinoma: This is a rare subset of adenocarcinoma. It forms near the lungs’ air sacs. Recent clinical research has shown that this type of cancer responds more effectively to the newer targeted therapies.
Large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma: This cancer forms near the surface, or outer edges, of the lungs. It can grow rapidly.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) accounts for approximately 20% of all primary lung cancers, or about 30,000–35,000 cases per year. There are substantial differences between the two groups in both treatment and prognosis. In general, small cell lung cancer tends to be more aggressive and spreads sooner to distant sites.
Treatment for small cell lung cancer is not based upon surgery; rather, most physicians employ a systemic approach that includes chemotherapy and local control with radiotherapy. Smoking is the major risk factor for the development of small cell lung carcinoma.

In smokers, lung cancer usually is associated with three principal histologic types–small cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma.

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